Nigga Moment(s) Related PTSD?

I rarely sleep well enough to have/remember a dream, and when it does happen, they’re so terrible that I wake myself up sweating and shaking. But there wasn’t any explosion in last night’s dream. No. I was in my car driving along some small street not unlike a shitty little one way street one might find in North Philly and for whatever reason–the dream-world representation of perpetual physical, mental and emotional exhaustion in my waking life–I was nodding off at the wheel. It was night time and luckily I passed out with my foot on the brake instead of on the gas. Here, unlike my fun dreams of the fantastical that are obviously dreams, I swore things were happening in real life and I struggled to keep myself awake, out of fear. Not necessarily of my car bumping into another vehicle, which it did (like that time I fell asleep at the stop sign coming off I-76 onto Montgomery ave). I was more worried about the people nearby.

There was a small group of them, mostly indistinguishable faces and equal amounts men and women. While I struggled to wake or move my body, several of them pulled me from my car, which then kept rolling into the car in front of me, since it was still in drive. Even though they grabbed me by the collar and arms to toss me up against my car, I still couldn’t wake up. They were all yelling obscenities that I couldn’t necessarily hear or understand. It wasn’t clear if it was their car I had slumped into either, and if it was, you’d think they would have put my car in park before accosting me, right?

But one thing that was clear, was that everyone doing the yelling was unmistakably Black. I mean, the neighborhood was North Philly(ish) so of course they were, but the dream seemed to be centered on that. Plus, I had to admit to myself that if they weren’t Black I wouldn’t even have been afraid of them at all. Which is mad fucked up/ problematic for all the obvious social psych 101 reasons. Still, I woke up terrified, my heart pounding at a light sprint.

I think I may be suffering from nigga moment related PTSD.

It’s not that this particular dream was the best representation of a nigga moment. No one’s Jordan’s got stepped on, and there were no parking spots taken (or maybe there was?) but the raw emotion–anger being the only acceptable emotion to express–immediately smothered out any sign of reason. I mean, people getting upset because you hit their car (if it was even their car) isn’t weird at all. For me, the thread that binds is the whole not comprehending what the aggression is for. Like, what’s the basis? If they would have been saying “you dickhead, you crashed into my car, etc, etc,” fine, probably not the best way to handle it, but whatever. For me, the fact that I didn’t know why bothered me the most.

Just like I didn’t know why that nigga at Penn’s Chinese store in Logan kept threatening me about “handling myself” in jail while I was waiting on that measly portion of shrimp and broccoli.

Just like I didn’t really know why the dude pulled a gun on me getting off the bus at Bridge and Torresdale.

Just like I never really knew–at least at the time, my best guesses were: walking, breathing, hearing, seeing and letting my wrists hang too loose–why I was being tormented at school by all the other Black kids and at home by the Black adults.

Knowing now of course, that is, having an intellectual grasp on structural disenfranchisement and survival and blah, blah, doesn’t really help most days. I’m still bitter, internally reactionary, and maybe a little petty. But mostly sad, especially when I meet other Black people and have to hide my surprise at their kindness.

One thought on “Nigga Moment(s) Related PTSD?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s